Churches in Meirionydd

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There is a wealth of churches in Meirionydd, many claiming unique features.  Historically the main part of the church didn't have seats or pews, but was used for conducting business hence was a main meeting and trading place for locals.  Many are small and squat, rather than tall and thin like other churches.  You don't have to be religious to appreciate the churches, they are often the most magnificent and historically interesting buildings in their area.

This is the write up for a tour organized by Tourism Partnership Mid Wales for accommodation providers to see what the area has to offer.

 
Our tour started off at 12th century St Cadfan's in Tywyn.  There are only 5 funerary carvings (effigies) in Meirion.  St Cadfan's is unique in having one knight and one other.  The 14th century knight is known as the crying knight as he sometimes weeps tears from his eyes.  The marks on him are from people sharpening knives.  The other effigy is an unknown priest.  The entrance porch dates from the second world war and has almost symmetrical arrangement of stones either side of the entrance.  The sea used to come almost right outside the church.  The church has been reduced in length as can be seen by the truncated arch at the end.
   
        

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The tour continued on to the 14th Century St Mary's and St Egryn at Llanegryn, where we saw one of the finest rood screens in Wales, said to come from nearby Cymer Abbey.  The effigies from the rood screen were removed during the Reformation.  On the outside of the church wall is engraved a cross from the old church which is strangely only really visible when the sun shines. It has gas lamps which are still lit on special occasions.  This was the first church to have a choir in uniform (see the picture in the porch).  This happened as recently as the 19th Century.

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The tour continued to Llangelynnin.  This church boasts the oldest walls in Wales.  It has a stoop in the porch that refills itself with water.  The pews have names on them, the wealthy farm owners are named at the front, and the farm names at the rear where the less well off labourers sat.  The font is in a central position as per the Celtic tradition.  There is a very interesting 16th Century Memento Mori (painted skeleton) which was been uncovered, and portions of other paintings.
Access: Park in the lay-by on the main road and walk down to the church.
 
     

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On to St Mark's of Brithdir.  It is no longer in use and is maintained by the Friends of Friendless Churches.  It is considered to be one of the finest Arts and Crafts churches in Wales.  The garden was planted by Mary Richards, a famous botanist.  The church was commissioned by Mrs Louisa Tooth in memory of her second husband, Rev Charles Tooth who had been chaplain and founder of the Anglican St Mark's Church in Florence.  Brithdir's St Mark's has a very Mediterranean feel to it.
Access: Park in the lay-by in front of the church.
 
        

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St Philip's of Caerdeon was inspired by the Basque churches of South West France and has been described as "purest Pyrenean".  An open bell-cote houses four bells.  It was originally built as a private church but became a parish church due to an Act of Parliament.  It is hidden in the trees of the hills.
 
        

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For more information on churches in Wales visit the Churches Tourism Network Wales site.